When the late, great website The Dissolve ended operations, it’s commenting community had The Solute to call home, but the staff and writers of The Dissolve have been scattered to the winds of the Internet. With Dissolve On, we collect some of the essential film writing being done by these essential film writers. Because there’s always a Dissolver writing something notable about the movies (and occasionally other stuff) somewhere on the Internet.
These folks are talented and prolific, so please share the pieces we missed in the comments!
Scott Tobias on Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth for NPR:
“Set over a week in a secluded vacation home in the Hudson River Valley, Queen of Earth is a typically dyspeptic film by Perry, whose four features as writer-director all pluck at raw nerves. Perry’s last effort, Listen Up Philip, significantly darkened the high-toned literary comedies of directors like Noah Baumbach and Woody Allen, offering two authors whose combined egomania sweeps through their lives like a brush fire. Though the characters in Queen of Earth speak their minds as freely and caustically as those in Perry’s other films, it deals with a different form of self-destruction, more internal than external.”
Rachel Handler interviews Queen of Earth‘s Elizabeth Moss for Rolling Stone:
“In Queen, Moss plays Catherine, a young woman who, after the death of her father and a particularly painful breakup, decides to hole up in a lakeside cabin with her best friend Virginia (Katherine Waterston)…The result is an eerie, darkly comic portrait of mental malfunction and mindfuckery that feels like the product of some unholy union between Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Persona, and every other Polanski film.
RH: There’s been a lot of talk about how Mad Men helped initiate this sea change on TV in terms of better roles for women. Did you notice that at all while it was happening?
EM: Oh, for sure. Every year it gets better. If you look at this year’s Emmy nominations, there are so many shows led by a female character. It’s packed to the gills. It didn’t used to be like that. I remember from my days on The West Wing, it wasn’t like that. And it’s not just cable — look at the network shows like Nashville and The Good Wife. All of these shows with lead characters who are women — I feel like that’s fucking extraordinary, and it’s definitely something I’ve watched happen. I can’t say it’s all because of Mad Men, because that’s a ridiculous thing to say. But I think that shows like ours, Damages, The Sopranos…[they’ve] changed the face of TV and have allowed for there to be really strong, interesting female characters.”
Matt Singer on Nicholas Cage in Next (wherein Matt learns how to make GIFs) for Screencrush:
“Reader, every minute of the last eight years I spent not watching Next was a colossal waste of time. This is a magnificent work of gonzo cinema; goofy and silly, illogical and insane. It is about Cris Johnson (Cage), a Las Vegas magician with the weirdest haircut in human history, who just so happens to have the gift of second sight — he can see exactly two minutes into the future….by any objective measurement, Next is terrible. The story is laughable, the effects are like something out of a Syfy Original, Nicolas Cage spends way too much time walking around without a shirt, and Julianne Moore looks like she’s counting down the seconds until she can go back to her trailer. But it’s the fun kind of terrible. It’s Nicolas Cage dodging bullets and wearing fedoras and romancing a woman who could easily play his daughter. It’s glorious.”
Noel Murray on Daniel Junge’s Being Evel for AV Club:
“As Daniel Junge’s documentary Being Evel explains, Knievel was doomed to fall hard. For one thing, he was a cantankerous cuss who regarded his heaping stacks of cash as a license to snarl at anyone who crossed him, intentionally or not—which eventually cost him a lot of goodwill with the same press he used to court. But the main reason why Knievel was bound to crash is that he nearly always crashed. He was great at dreaming up stunts that millions of people would want to see, but not so great at figuring out how to execute them safely and successfully. That ended up being a major part of why he drew such a crowd. Modern daredevils use math and practice to assure that they’ll nail their tricks. Knievel just let it rip, offering the very real possibility that spectators might get to watch him die.”
Charles Bramesco on the pitfalls of remaking foreign films for domestic audiences for Forbes:
“Films structured around regionally specific political subtext, though usually well-decorated during awards season, lose their meaning when stripped of the setting… More than simple content, managing the overall attitude of a film has also proven crucial when attuning it to American tastes. As much as the medium of film unites disparate populations under the beauty of the image and joy of sound or what have you, there’s no getting around the fact that Americans respond to pop-culture differently than audiences in France, or South Korea, or Iran. Domestic viewers have distinctly calibrated senses of humor and outrage, which don’t always sync up with the source material.”
Mike D’Angleo on Anna Muylaert’s The Second Mother for AV Club:
“A few years ago, the Brazilian director Walter Salles and his occasional partner, Daniela Thomas, made a lovely, heartbreaking short film for the omnibus feature Paris, Je T’Aime. Running just a few minutes, it showed the typical day of a young immigrant (Catalina Sandino Moreno), who drops her own child off at a daycare center in the morning, then spends the rest of the day caring for someone else’s child. That cruel economic irony is at the heart of The Second Mother, from Brazil, which is more or less a feature-length, homegrown version of the same scenario. Sadly, it isn’t nearly as effective, mostly because writer-director Anna Muylaert has conceived it as a simplistic tale of dawning empowerment, featuring a heroine who’s easy to root for, but not complex enough to take seriously.”
Nathan Rabin on the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” making it into the Oxford English Dictionary for The Globe and Mail:
“Not too long ago, I took to the cyberpages of Salon to apologize for creating the phrase “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” and to call for its death (’cause if you’re not going to be ridiculously hyperbolic, why even be on Salon?)…[S]omething I created to criticize sexism in all of its forms, particularly the disingenuous and faux-celebratory, quickly became a tool to attack all female characters who were quirky, goofy and wild…Yet on Thursday morning, when I discovered that the Oxford Dictionary was going to include “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” in this year’s crop of new phrases, alongside such glorious contributions to the vernacular as “butthurt,” “mic drop,” “awesomesauce” and “manspreading,” I felt an overwhelming surge of pride.”
Tasha Robinson (who has been dropping some film reviews at the AV Club, as well) writes about the curious case of this year’s sci-fi Hugo Awards for NPR:
“Before 2015, voters had only selected “No Award” as the Hugo option five times over the course of the awards’ 62-year history. It’s meant as a nuclear option, the equivalent of a no-confidence vote. 2015’s slate earned “No Award” five more times on its own. The award presenters — authors David Gerrold and Tananarive Due — seemed embarrassed and uncomfortable every time “No Award” took another category, and whisked quietly on to the next set of nominees. But the audience of thousands, packed into three large convention-center rooms at WorldCon to watch the ceremony, cheered enthusiastically each time [rouge voting block] the Puppies got shut down [by a “No Award” winner].”
(For a bit more context, see this previous post from Tasha)
Keith Phipps has been named the Film/TV Editor for Uproxx and Sam Adams interviewed Keith on the new position for Indiewire:
“SA: What are you looking forward to being able to do at Uproxx that wouldn’t have fit the Dissolve’s mission?
KP: I always saw The Dissolve’s mission as laser-focused on film, past and present. I definitely want to draw on that way of thinking for Uproxx, covering the present while also remembering there’s an audience of readers that likes to understand the present as part of a continuum with the past. That the site is already doing that sort of thing—as with pieces like its oral history of “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” and its reappraisal of “That Thing You Do!” — makes me feel like I’ll be right at home there. That being said, it’s a different, faster-paced site and just bringing in TV changes my mission, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”